Nottingham’s stunning new life sciences building takes shape

A stunning new life science building is beginning to take shape in Nottingham – and project partners saw progress for themselves during a site visit on Wednesday October 7th.

The £30m facility forms an expansion of the highly successful BioCity complex, with work well underway on the five-storey building which is now beginning to emerge from the ground.

Nottingham City Council is funding the development through a £6.5m grant from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and prudential borrowing. It is being built by Willmott Dixon to a design by Nottingham architects CPMG, with Gleeds as project and cost manager. The building will be operated by BioCity Group Ltd. Sygnature Discovery , currently based in the Laurus building at BioCity, will take up 30,000sq ft of the 50,000 sq ft available – which frees up incubator space in the existing building.

Local people are benefitting from construction jobs – including 400 weeks of apprenticeship work – and Nottingham companies will gain more than £5m of work from the project. Willmott Dixon will also work closely with Central College Nottingham, Princes Trust and local schools to provide over 120 students with work experience opportunities to promote young people entering the construction industry. Once it is complete in spring 2017, the facility will help to bring more life science employers to Nottingham and create and safeguard around 250 specialist bioscience jobs, with 700 more created over a 30-year period.

The prominent brownfield site on Plough Lane overlooking Parliament Street will benefit from a striking new building whose design includes a sunscreen created by acclaimed local artist Wolfgang Buttress. The building will be designed to achieve a BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) ‘excellent’ rating, aimed at reducing its environmental impact. It will be connected to the district heating system and so its energy needs will be provided from burning the city’s waste. The new development is expected to act as a catalyst for the regeneration of the Eastside of the city.

The site was bought, cleared and decontaminated by Nottingham City Council for the state-of-the-art life science incubator to be developed. The facility will be fitted with high-tech biology and chemistry laboratories which will be built in a range of sizes to allow companies to expand, with ancillary space for commercial leasing to both start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Councillor Jon Collins, Leader for Nottingham City Council and Portfolio Holder for Strategic Regeneration, said: “This is a significant development because not only will it cement our position as the UK’s fastest growing life science community, bringing new investment and job opportunities in one of our key growth sectors, but it will also help to regenerate the east side of the city and bring job opportunities during its construction.”

David Ralph, Chief Executive for the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Nottingham has seen a boom in the life sciences sector over the last decade and it now needs room to develop further. The D2N2 LEP is committed to aiding the growth of its eight key economic sectors, including life sciences, which is why we were happy to invest £6.5million in this major project, put forward by our local authority partner Nottingham City Council.”

Nick Heath, operations director at Willmott Dixon in the East Midlands, said: “This is an exciting project for Willmott Dixon and we are extremely pleased to be involved in such an iconic development which will raise the benchmark for future development in the city. The new building will help support start up and existing small and medium sized enterprises within the sector – making it a fantastic hub for the ever-growing life science business in the Midlands.

“We are looking forward to making a start on this project and further strengthening our portfolio of life science projects – which is steadily increasing alongside demand in the region.”

Operations director at BioCity Toby Reid said: “This is a real statement of intent for Nottingham as a leader in the life sciences sector. Not only have we ensured that a company of the standing of Sygnature Discovery has remained here, as a beacon of excellence in the sector but we’ve also been able to create further space to accommodate our own growth and that of the next generation of innovative entrepreneurs.

“It is by creating this clustering effect that we can accelerate the growth of companies within and associated with BioCity. That is good news for the local economy which, via the City Council and the LEP is placing life sciences at the heart of its growth strategy. They are to be applauded for their commitment – we will ensure by working closely with them that the city reaps the rewards of this exciting, shared vision.”

Hugh Avison, group director at CPMG, said: “This project is a fantastic opportunity to make a significant improvement within Nottingham. It’s a city which is already well known for its science expertise – being the home of Ibruprofen and the MRI scanner.

“The area is highlighted for major future development as the Eastside Regeneration Zone and we are immensely proud to be designing the first building as part of this, which we are sure will act as a catalyst for further development. I’m particularly excited about the sunscreen by Wolfgang Buttress which will be a significant and impactful part of the building.”

Gleeds Director Anthony Cork said: “Community is really at the heart of this scheme. From day one the project team have looked at how we can create a building that showcases what Nottingham has to offer, and delivers real benefit to the city. Before construction even began a procurement method was adopted that helped secure a locally-based supply chain – from the design team, right the way through to the supplier of energy for the building. All of the appointments made so far have been with companies who are fully invested in the city’s future, which has helped create a really dynamic and committed project delivery team.”

Sygnature Discovery’s CEO & Founder, Dr Simon Hirst, commented: “The announcement of the new building could not have come at a better time for Sygnature. We have plans for significant expansion over the next couple of years and it will provide a real focus knowing that we will be accommodated in a state of the art facility such as this. Without the continuing support of BioCity and the Council it would have been much more difficult for Sygnature to become the successful business that it is today. The new building is a magnificent example of this continuing commitment to support Science in Nottingham.”

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